April 6th – In The (Migration) Doldrums

Joanne with a Tree Swallow - the first to be banded this year.

The last two days have been very similar: cold with frost during the night, then clear sunny skies through the day with a cool northerly wind – temperatures in the low teens. Nice conditions for hiking but not so great for bird movement – at least not at Ruthven. Right now we seem to be on hold. The birds that are here aren’t going anywhere and there’s no ‘new’ birds moving into the area (except for the first Common Loon of the year that went winging over yesterday, heading north). This results in a lot of retraps – the recapture of birds that we’ve banded previously, sometimes yesterday and sometimes a few years ago – and American Goldfinches, who are taking full advantage of our feeders to fuel their energy-demanding pre-alternate moult: we’ve caught and processed 121 birds in the past two days; 77 or 64% of them have been recaptures; and 26 (59%) of the 44 new birds banded have been American Goldfinches. No exciting migrants to speak of.

Bright sunshine and warm daytime temperatures are bringing out the butterflies, like this Mourning Cloak. - A. Klaus

On the other hand, we’ve had lots of visitors and volunteers with assorted baked goods!!! Just consider: in the past two days I’ve been forced to sample 3 different types of free-range muffins and 2 types of banana bread. At this rate, it’s going to be difficult to maintain my svelte figure…..

One of the ongoing problems we have at Ruthven is trying to keep Garlic Mustard at bay. But maybe the solution is not to look at it as a pest but as a pesto….if it’s good to eat, maybe lots of people will want to come and pick it (as much as they want…for free). This, anyway, was Bronwen Tregunno’s thinking after her latest visit, as this email will attest.

Hi Rick
It was great seeing you again along with all our fellow bird enthusiasts. Elaine & I picked some tender young garlic mustard and I made a pesto with it and it’s really good. I’ve put it in fridge to try over pasta, potatoes or tomato wedges or cherry tomatoes. I think Elaine said Nancy & Loretta tried it as well. Here are a couple of sites for recipes:



http://www.npr.org/2011/04/18/135412640/foraging-the-weeds-for-wild-healthy-greens ..this site has a frittata recipe that looks good.

For mine I just used the washed and picked tender green leaves not stems. : – Add leaves(~ 1.5 c), walnuts (~3/4 c), olive oil (~3/4 c) in small processor & grind up fine – measurements aren’t precise. You just need enough oil to get leaves & walnuts to grind up into a nice paste. Then add salt to taste. I added lemon juice & white wine (optional on wine) to perk it up- about 1/4 c or so. The acid of wine & lemon juice cuts the bitterness – like a sour-bitter-salt combo. I didn’t bother with Parmesan cheese but it would add saltiness & dilute the bitterness. You can also add soft tofu to “dilute” bitterness in processor – 1/4 c or so – or 2T of sesame seed paste. At the early growth stage of today’s picking the leaves were not particularly bitter & had a nice mild garlic flavour. Apparently the seeds are used in France to make a pungent mustard. All very nutritional too.
Anything to get rid of this pesky weed!
Thanks again for today! Hope to see you again soon. Have a great Easter.

April 5th:
Banded 22:
1 Mourning Dove
3 American Robins
1 Red-winged Blackbird
3 Brown-headed Cowbirds
14 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 39 spp.

April 6th
Banded 22:
1 Tree Swallow
1 Field Sparrow
1 Song Sparrow
3 Dark-eyed Juncos
4 Brown-headed Cowbirds
12 American Goldfinches

ET’s: 34 spp.


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